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Masterpiece or Copy?
Anthony van Dyck
5 December 2009 – 14 February 2010
This autumn Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will throw new light on ‘St Jerome with an Angel’ by Anthony van Dyck. This highlight of the museum collection can be seen beside a different version of the painting owned by the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. An unusual multimedia presentation will provide the answer to the question as to which of the two is a masterpiece and which a copy.
For the first time the two seemingly identical paintings by Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) can be admired side by side. ‘St Jerome with an Angel’ is part of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection as a long-term loan from the Willem van der Vorm Foundation. The Nationalmuseum in Stockholm has a different version. The two paintings were made between 1618 and 1621 in the Antwerp painter’s studio.
Both paintings were recently restored and in the process essential differences were revealed. Over the last few months extensive research has been carried out to establish which painting was made first and to find out whether both works were painted by Van Dyck himself. Did he paint an original and a replica in his studio, or is one of them a copy by a pupil?
The results of the research will be presented in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. X-radiographs show that both canvases are the same size they were originally, although the Rotterdam canvas is not as wide as the one in Stockholm. Paint sample analysis has proved that the pigments used in the two paintings are identical. Infra-red technology has revealed that there are a number of overpainted corrections in one of the paintings. The brushstrokes have also been painstakingly compared. The painting from Stockholm was painted less spontaneously, and at first sight not as masterfully. Jerome’s foot, however, seems to have been painted better there than in the Rotterdam painting.
From 5 December everyone can follow the research step by step in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Visitors can make their own comparison between the two works in a multi-media presentation with projections onto the actual paintings. The exhibition will also reveal which painting is the original Van Dyck.
The exhibition was made possible in part by the Willem van der Vorm Foundation. It is accompanied by a publication in which curators and restorers of the two museums explain the research. The exhibition can be seen in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm from 28 February 2010 and in Museum M Leuven from 10 June 2010.
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